Communicating effectively can have a huge impact on your relationships. I was recently speaking with a good friend about her relationship with her dad. It had been very strained most of her life, and both of her parents are now at the point where their health is diminishing and they are relying on her more and more for their day-to-day functioning. For many, having to care for someone who at times was downright cruel to them while they were growing up wouldn’t be an option. To my friend, it felt like a responsibility and I’d even say, a privilege.I was in awe of the generosity and forgiveness my friend demonstrated toward her father. Her feeling was that she is “100% responsible for the part she plays in their relationship, just as he is 100% responsible for his own part.” She chose to be the kind of person who can look in the mirror and be proud of her role. It struck me that this philosophy is true for every relationship we have in life. If we could separate our part in making a relationship good or bad, it would be so much easier to tell where the lines of responsibility lay. This is not an easy thing to do.
How many times do we react to something in a way we regret afterward? Part of what happens for many of us is that we continue to tap into negative feelings that may have been building up over time. The more buildup we have, the easier it is to for someone to push our buttons. And whose responsibility is that? Communicating our needs and wants clearly and respectfully – even though it can be challenging, is how we improve who we are and how we are in our associations with people.
In a disagreement with someone, whether it’s a parent, partner or friend, your responsibility is to model how you want to be spoken to and treated. When you “fight”, if you begin to insult someone with names and negative adjectives, I guarantee you that you will get the same treatment back, or the other person will totally shut down. What do you have then? There will certainly be no resolution to whatever the original argument was about.
If you have a relationship in your life that isn’t good, there are options available to you. You can end the relationship and move on; you can commit to doing what YOU can do by taking responsibility for your part (and communicating what you need) and THEN make a decision; or you can be miserable and maintain the status quo.
Based on what I’ve seen work, taking ownership and improving how you relate is the way to make that or the next relationship work. I’m happy to speak with you about your communication style and your particular situation. Give me a call!